Eli, my little boy: I was thinking about you Mommy and I wanted you.
Eli: If me hear Sound, me get you Mommy?
A few moments later after I've left the room...
Eli: Mommy, I need you.
(Mommy enters the room.)
Me: What happens Eli if you hear a sound?
Eli: If me hear sound, I get out of bed and get you.
Me: No Eli, I will take care of any sound. I love you.
It is an amazing thing to me to have an actual conversation with my late talker. When he turned two, he didn't say a word. He started speech therapy two months after he turned two. I learned a lot. It was very humbling.
When I became a parent I resolved not to think that what my kids did or didn't do was about me. I saw that in my dad when I was a kid. He took my actions personally when they weren't about him.
As our children grow, we want to make sure they're hitting all the benchmarks they need to. And when they haven't hit one that other children have, we might wonder if we did something wrong. Some pediatricians will even question us--in the case of speech, the question is always "Are you talking for him? Are his brothers or sisters talking for him?" The assumption is that you are. Whenever I would explain or mention to someone that Eli was in speech therapy the next statement or question. I would get asked that question or hear a similar assumption that I or the girls have been speaking for him. But, that wasn't the case.
At first, I kept defending myself and the girls. I wasn't able to stop myself. We didn't. Eli actually didn't want to talk. He happens to have a stubborn spirit. After the first few visits from his speech therapist, I asked her if she agreed with my conclusion that he simply didn't want to talk. She agreed with me. Over the next few months, she and I broke through that. Often it was a matter of discipline. When he wanted me to read a book to him, I refused until he repeated what I had asked him to try and say. I realized he needed to want to talk. Over the course of the fall, this happened.
Usually late talkers then begin to struggle with articulation, but Eli has really caught on to this. He is repeating words well for me and working on the sounds that I ask him to. He is now right on target for his age. His speech therapy may end soon. I am thankful for this, but I will also miss it for his sake. He has come to enjoy his time with Miss Rachel playing games and reading books--all with a purpose. But, again, his success is not about me. I realize it doesn't make me a better or worse mom. But, I am excited for him.
Now I get to tackle the typical two year old behavior like I saw today. We were leaving church and he didn't want to. So, he cried the whole way out. I let it go and addressed it at the car, where he settled down as soon as I did. I can't imagine what the folks at church thought. But, I did talk to him about it. And it wasn't okay.
When there are other issues going on, it's easy to be more permissible of behavior. I have at times fallen into that trap. No longer.
But, the conversation I had with him tonight still melts my heart. I can talk with my son!